Judge Cancels Licenses for Wind Energy Project Threatening Endangered Lear's Macaw

A joint action lawsuit filed at the state and federal levels in Brazil was decided in favor of the Lear’s Macaw, canceling French company Voltalia’s licenses for the Canudos Wind Complex.
A wind energy project threatens the Endangered Lear's Macaw, found only in a tiny region of Brazil. Photo by Aldo Nunes

Last week, a federal judge in Brazil suspended all licenses previously granted to energy company Voltalia to build a wind power facility in the habitat of the Endangered Lear's Macaw in northeastern Brazil. In his ruling, the judge said that these licenses cannot be granted until legally required Environmental Impact Studies and Environmental Impact Reports have been completed and public hearings have been held. Meanwhile, construction for the project has been underway for several months, creating a collisions risk for birds as they fly through the area. 

“We applaud the judge's decision and hope that this leads to the project's relocation out of Lear's Macaw habitat,” said Amy Upgren, American Bird Conservancy's (ABC's) Director of the Alliance for Zero Extinction.   

This decision was prompted by a lawsuit filed by federal and state-level public prosecutors in Brazil last month that asserted the project's licenses should be nullified because Voltalia had unlawfully proceeded without an Environmental Impact Assessment. Local communities have also voiced their opposition to the wind project, most recently in December 2022 in a formal complaint to the United Nations.  

Renewable energy is vitally important in the fight against climate change. ABC advocates for renewable energy to be placed in areas where threats to birds are minimized.

The area where wind turbines have been under construction is formally recognized for its environmental importance as a Key Biodiversity Area and Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) site. With Brazilian partners, ABC has supported successful efforts to conserve the Lear's Macaw in the area for decades, including the expansion of the Canudos Biological Station Reserve, which provides protected habitat for the species. Voltalia's wind project poses a serious threat to years of progress toward saving this species from extinction. The recent ruling is a hopeful sign that Lear's Macaw will be able to continue its path toward recovery. 


American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.orgFacebookInstagram, and X/Twitter (@ABCbirds).

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